Who Deserves Credit?

It’s funny how everyone blames the director when a film goes wrong. But if the film is successful, everyone chips in to take credit. As the saying goes, “Success has many fathers, and failure is an orphan”. Sri Lanka’s eminent female filmmaker Ms. Sumitra Peries said that if a film crew was responsible for a film’s success, then every film the crew worked on should be a hit – but we all know that isn’t true. The success of the film really does belong to the director, even though filmmaking is a collective effort.

In my case, I wrote, directed and edited a 45-minute wildlife documentary in 2018 (Wild Sri Lanka – Realm of the Leopard) on Sri Lankan Leopards. Apart from the actual filming (which I was present for every single day) I had a hand in everything, as a good director always should. Later, the film was picked up by an international distributor and was broadcast on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. The documentary was a success and received much coverage in the local press.

However, I was very intrigued when everyone commended the ‘filming’ of the film. Because the actual filming constituted just 40% of the tremendous work that went into making the film. People (maybe conveniently) forgot to give due credit to the writer, editor, colorist, composer and sound designer – all of who played an equal part in the film’s creation.

Various cameras used for filming (all of which had different color profiles!)

For instance, the script was polished many times – even during the last stages of editing. Then the editing went on for 3 months until a final cut was agreed upon. The colorist (Dmitry C. Kuzentov) did a tremendous job of grading the footage – even though people lauded the ‘filming’, most of the footage was shot with different cameras including varying color profiles! Not to mention, most of the footage shot on the field was mediocre at best; at least 60% of the raw footages were not usable. The final edit was done using the best possible shots, which constituted 40% of all the footage.

The editing of the film lasted 3 months

I would also like to add that the sound designer (Sergey Zhelezkov) made the whole film come alive with his sound design. He painstakingly recreated all ambient sounds according to the environment while recreating every foley sound on-screen, which true filmmakers know is an art form in itself. ‘Filming’ is just one aspect of production. And the success of “Wild Sri Lanka – Realm of the Leopard” was not all due to the ‘filming’. Filmmaking, as stated earlier, is a collective medium, not a solo ‘one-man show’ like other art forms, even though the director is – and always will be – the true author of a film.